Here they are: my first pair of jeans! They’re Mia jeans from our British friends at Sew Over It.
I’m DELIGHTED with how they turned out. Once I was finished and put them on to show Husband Mark, I told him making jeans was sewing wizardry. And I stand by that statement. Sewing jeans feels like a final exam in that it calls on you to show off everything you’ve learned. Completing jeans feels like you just aced the final and you want to run out of the lecture hall high-fiving everyone you meet.
Yeah, it’s that good.
Sewing Mia Jeans: The Details
Would you believe this is denim from Jo-Ann? It’s actually nice, heavy-weight(ish) stretch denim. I bought it last year (I think), and I haven’t seen it stocked since. I *think* it’s a blend of mostly cotton, a touch of polyester (which is great for durability), and spandex (natch).
I’m always creeping on Jo-Ann’s denim, because I have this secret hope that the store will stock more than lightweight stretch denim (perfect for jeggings) and heavy non-stretch denim (perfect for relaxed jeans and jackets).
Anyhoo, I’m dying to discover the recovery of this denim.
I was all about mods with these Mia jeans. I scooped the back crotch curve to accommodate a low bum. I took half-inch wedges out of the back leg pieces for a swayback adjustment. I also reshaped the legs to better fit around my knees (details follow).
Then I got crazy with design choices. The Mia jeans are basic, basic, basic — they’re skinnies with a fly front and rear pockets. I added stitching to create faux front pockets and a faux yoke, and I added belt loops, too. What can I say? I like a classic-looking jean.
I also added a vintage Girl Scout patch on my right cheek. That’s a patch I earned for good manners! I found it in my mom‘s dresser, and I think she’d like it on my jeans. When I came across this patch, I reminded me of the triangle brand patches on Guess? jeans in the ’80s and ’90s. Oh, how I coveted those jeans!
Mods for Next Time
I still think the fit of these Mia jeans could be better. Should I make them again, I want to try a flat pubis adjustment for a pubic bone that’s set farther back and/or a shorten front crotch length adjustment. I also think I could further refine the leg fit. And I’d add a little length, too. I like a full-length jean for most applications. If it’s warmer, I can cuff them; if it’s cool, I can keep the hem long.
Wisdom Gathered While Sewing Mia Jeans
I learned a lot from this sewing project. Here are my top insights for your consumption.
1.) There’s a lot of sewing in jeans making.
This may seem like a “well, duh” statement, but hear me out.
I’ve talked about how there’s a lot of non-sewing in sewing — printing and taping PDFs, tracing, cutting out paper pattern pieces, cutting out fabric pattern pieces, etc, etc. As I stitched the jeans together, I was like, “DANG, there’s A TON of stuff to sew here!” A lot of that is because of the topstitching, to be sure.
I enjoyed a project where I spent a bunch of quality time with my sewing machine.
2.) Practice, practice, practice that fly-front zipper.
Before the Mia jeans, fly-front zippers gave me anxiety. Then I realized I had one pair of jeans in my closet that I actually liked/wore. It was FINALLY time to sew jeans, regardless of how I felt about fly-front zips. I had a need and aspirations to take on this type of sewing project.
So, what’s the best way to get better at something? Practice, practice, practice. I sewed six fly-front zippers before I did the zip on my Mia Jeans. I used the instructions from the Grainline Maritime shorts and committed to acing them. And I did. This fly-front zipper is gorgeous.
3.) You’ll constantly switch needles and thread.
While sewing the Mia jeans, I had three needle-thread combos going:
- Basting thread with a random old microtex needle.
- Topstitching thread with a topstitching needle.
- Construction thread (all-purpose 100 percent poly) with a denim needle.
When you sew your own jeans, get ready for that and think about how you’ll organize your needles and thread. I kept them in a neat row next to my sewing machine.
Now I understand why it’d be nice to have a second sewing machine: You could leave it threaded for topstitching.
Following are Amazon affiliate links chosen for you! If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Clover Buttonhole Cutter: I can’t explain it, but using a buttonhole cutter is deeply satisfying. Watch those fingers, though! (LOL, I sound like such a mom.)
Dritz Fray Check Liquid Seam Sealant: Don’t cut a buttonhole without it!
Gutermann Top Stitch Heavy Duty Thread: This is the thread I used to make GORGEOUS topstitching on jeans.
Schmetz Sewing Machine Needles: Do yourself a huge favor and get some topstitching needles and denim needles. The right tools make a difference!
Beeswax and Holder: I did a fair amount of handbasting on these jeans, and running my thread end through beeswax to stiffen it for needle threading was a godsend.
Dritz 50-Piece Assorted Needles: It’s good to have an variety of hand-sewing needles in your arsenal.
Ogrmar Professional Triangle Tailor’s Chalk Sewing 10PC (4 Color): When you’re doing this much topstitching and fitting, ya gots to have marking tools on hand.
Over Kleshas Jeans Metal Zipper (6 Zippers/Pack= Navy 2, Black 2, White 2) (7″): Stock up on metal jeans zippers. I think 7 inches is the shortest zipper you should work with; longer is better, because you can cut off the excess!
10-Pieces Metal Replacement Jeans Buttons Kit: Get classic bronze hardware for your jeans.
BBTO 100 Set Leather Rivets Double Cap Rivets with Fixing Tool Kit for Leather Craft Repairing Decoration, 4 Color: Oooh, this kit with gold, silver, black, and bronze rivets looks SO COOL!
4.) Turn the flywheel by hand.
When sewing jeans, things are thick, particularly seams and topstitching thread. Take it slow and turn the flywheel to pilot the needle over tricky bits. My foot was constantly off the pedal, and it helped prevent fatal bird’s nests and skipped stitches. (I still have a few of both here and there, but taking the manual route kept tragedy to a minimum.)
Plus, it’s extremely satisfying to feel that muscle connection between turning the wheel with your hand and arm and puncturing the thick fabric.
5.) Examine jeans you own.
I was surprised by how many times I dragged out (or took off) my fave jeans to check details. Specifically, my favorite jeans — a well-loved pair from the Gap outlet years ago — showed me how to reshape my leg seams.
I didn’t like the baggy wrinkles around the knees of my Mia jeans. So I shimmied out of my Gap skinnies to figure out how those knees fit my body so nicely. Turns out that the seams of the Gap jeans came in ever so slightly at the knees to better mimic the shape of my legs. Once I made this mod to the Mias, the knee situation greatly improved.
Short story long: If you have a pair of jeans that fit you well, there’s a reason. Discover that reason and repeat it!
6.) Use all the sewing gear!
If you have a bunch of gadgets and gizmos in your sewing arsenal that you rarely use, it’s time to break them out, baby! I used different feet, a Hump Jumper, a tiny cutting mat and buttonhole chisel, an awl, and a hammer to make my Mia jeans, and that’s only the stuff I can think of off the top of my head.
7.) You might want to put away your automatic buttonholer.
I have an automatic buttonhole function and foot for my sewing machine (I feel like most machines these days do; is that accurate?). But, the thing is touchy, and it was super touchy when it came to sewing a buttonhole on a pair of jeans. The fly seam allowance under the waistband created an uneven stitching surface, and my buttonhole foot and feed dogs were not making a love connection. Boo.
To make my buttonhole, I followed great advice from YouTube from sewist Angela Kane and did lines of satin(ish) stitching. I sewed a skinny rectangle with 100 percent polyester all-purpose thread, stitch width 2.0 millimeters and stitch length 0.8 millimeters. I used navy thread, which matched my jeans and made the buttonhole invisible. (I knew this wasn’t going to be the prettiest buttonhole and I didn’t want to draw attention to it.)
Before and after I cut open the buttonhole, I loaded on the Fray Check. And for a manual buttonhole, it looks pretty darn good.
Don’t work yourself into a lather over a jeans buttonhole. Match the thread to your jeans and know that the button will cover most of it. #getonwithyourlife
8.) Enjoy the process.
This wisdom nugget is similar to the bit about “there’s a lot of sewing in jeans making.” As I sewed the Mia jeans, I found myself truly enjoying the process. I pressed and topstitched with precision. I tweaked fit over and over. I researched and improvised. Making jeans felt more like an adventure, an experience vs. a sewing project. I can’t wait to sew another pair!
OK, sewing lady bros and dude bros. How do you feel about sewing jeans? Have you taken the plunge? If not, why not? Please sound off in comments! Thanks for reading!
P.S. Here’s the previous post: Sewing for Depression and Anxiety: 24 Sewing Ideas to Improve Your Mood.
P.P.S. The Mia jeans are part of Sew Over It’s City Break capsule wardrobe e-book. Here are posts about other makes from the collection:
Erin sews Erin: Sew Over it Erin skirt pattern review
Sew Over It Molly top: Stripes around my shoulder
I just need to make two more garments to complete the collection: The Alex shirt/dress and the Lola jacket. #goals
P.P.P.S. There’s always next year, Brewers!